The IRS Is NOT Your Enemy

Personal Money Planning |

By Gary Silverman, CFP®

A few years back, I was at a tax forum put on by the IRS (one of the government agencies that doesn’t need an its acronym explained). While I’m not a tax expert by any means, my job and my interests make sitting in lectures about taxes for days at a time seem like fun. Yes, I know I’m a bit odd.

On a lunch break, I was sharing a table with a young lady, with whom I was having a pleasantries-conversation typical for strangers thrown together at an event. Conspicuously absent was her saying what she did or where she worked. When I asked if she worked for the IRS, she sheepishly confirmed my suspicions. Apparently, even in a gathering of professionals put on by the IRS, folks like her aren’t treated with much respect. I found that sad.

At this moment, I have a feeling some of my readers are saying to themselves something to the effect of, “And they deserve it!”. The folks working at the IRS are not our enemies. You may be thinking, “How can that be when they just hired 87,000 new agents? How can they not be our enemies when the government is taking away our guns and arming all those IRS agents?”

If this is you, it may be time to dig deeper and examine the facts. First, there have been armed IRS agents for a long time. Certain sections of the IRS investigate organized crime and violent armed criminals. Things can get dicey quickly. Think of them as law enforcement people who know their way around spreadsheets.

A tiny fraction of the new agents will end up with a holster. The rest of them are to shore up a woefully understaffed entity. They are not the enemy. They are there to help ensure everyone pays their fair share (at least according to the law) to keep this country going. If you don’t like laws which take money from you and use it in ways you don’t like, get mad at Congress, not the IRS.

Yes, I know, the IRS isn’t exactly “fun”. My heart drops into the pit of my stomach when I receive a letter with their logo on it. I get it. It seems like they keep playing “gotcha!” In any industry, dealing with auditors is not high on the list of entertainment. But being able to acknowledge the necessity of it, even if we do not like it, is required for society to run smoothly.

And about all those new agents and billions in new funding: We the people have been complaining for years about the terrible service the IRS has been giving us (just try calling to ask a question about your taxes). This is Congress trying to address the issue.

But before you think I’m a secret lover of the IRS, come back next week and I’ll tell you why I think this latest infusion of people and money is aimed at the wrong problem.